The Austin Chronicle called Trans Am D.C’s answer to the Prima Donnas — a convenient description, but a tad inaccurate.
The Prima Donnas push the most absurd elements of New Wave to their post-punk extremes. The England-by-way-of-Texas trio take their lack of seriousness seriously.
And if there’s one thing critics and audiences couldn’t do was take New Wave seriously.
Trans Am, on the other hand, sound like they have a real respect for the robotic, analog beats of New Wave, incorporating it with rock ‘n’ roll with the same kind of aplomb rap-rockers apply to their trade.
New Wave wasn’t just a fashion faux pas — it’s a legitimate aesthetic, or so Trans Am would like us to believe.
And the D.C. trio makes a really good case on T.A..
Rife with period synthesizers and drum machines, T.A. could have sounded like it was recorded circa 1982.
“Molecules” certainly doesn’t sound like it was made in the last two years. Twittering synthesizers and thumping bass lines practically bury the wailing guitars on the track. It’s a cousin piece to Re-Flex’s “Politics of Dancing”, just with a bit more viscera.
“Cold War” combines Kraftwerk drum programming and Johnny Marr guitar embellishments. “Run With Me” jumps along at a double-time pace reminiscent of Wire.
Unlike Tommy February6’s historically accurate reading of the ’80s, Trans Am infuses more recent influences to give its music some rough edges.
“You Will Be There” may have an ominous beat, but Nathan Means’ growl bears no resemblance to the English drawl of Phil Oakley or Dave Wakeling. The moody guitar on “Afternight” goes against the precision of everything that went before.
By the end of the album, “Infinite Wavelength” edges away from New Wave and closer to the precursors of industrial.
T.A. does a great job of giving New Wave a lot more credit than it’s been given, infusing it with a gravity that’s not too heavy-handed nor uncharacteristic. There’s definitely a party vibe to T.A. but not at the point of slapstick.
It’s OK. Don’t fear New Wave.